It's New to Us by Jean Stratton

CREATIVE CARDS: "This was the right time for me to do this. I have really been surprised at how well I've been doing in such a short time. There are already orders for July!" Kathleen Barnett, owner of Cardtique, is shown near a colorful display of the many samples of stationery items at her shop.

Selection of Invitations and Cards are Available at Cardtique Studio

Finding the perfect invitation, note card, announcement, even memo or jotting pad has just gotten a lot easier. The opening of Cardtique, a retail outlet for a variety of stationery items, provides customers with wonderful individualized choices.

"My mom always said 'Invitations set the tone for the party,'" reports Cardtique owner Kathleen Barnett. "I like to focus on products from new designers, who are not so well-known, and who are doing great work. We offer such designers as Cross My Heart, Preppy Cards, and Nina Bee Design. The last two are exclusive to Cardtique."

The cards and invitations of these designers are unique, exude personality, and can also be customized to color, style, and font choices, adds Ms. Barnett. "People want their invitations and cards to reflect their own personality now. Wedding invitations are much more geared to the bride's personality, as are all invitations today."

Indeed. Invitations come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and styles. Handbag and shoe shapes for shoppers, fireman cards, including tiny hoses, for little boys (kids are now having parties in fire houses, reports Ms. Barnett), cards with scalloped edges, stripes, flowers — there is no limit except one's imagination!

"Right now, embellishment is very popular," notes Ms. Barnett. "Ribbon, glitter, etc. Little girls love princess cards, especially pink."

Color is definitely emphasized, she adds. "Adults like pink and chocolate brown and also blue and brown combinations."

New Owner

The mother of two small children, Ms. Barnett had always wanted to open a retail store, in particular, a boutique, she explains. Thus the signature name, Cardtique — a boutique for cards! Her dream came true when she least expected it, however, this past January.

"It turned out that Lynn Ajello, owner of The Paper Place in Skillman, wanted to sell her business. I knew her and had gotten invitations and cards from her. We talked on a Monday, and by Friday, I was the new owner! I bought the business and all the albums of the different companies, which include well-known ones also, such as Stacy Claire Boyd and others. And I bought the client list."

Ms. Barnett is off to a great start, setting up shop in a charming room in her Princeton home. Filled with samples of invitations, announcements, note cards, memos, pads, stickers, and labels of every style, plus 60 albums (not including holidays) representing the companies and designers whose work she carries, it is a perfect showcase for her selection,

Invitations of all kinds, including wedding, birthday (especially Sweet 16), baby showers (very big right now), graduation, christening, bar/bat mitzvahs, and baby announcements are in demand, she says, as are calling cards.

"These are popular with moms who are home," explains Ms. Barnett. "They leave them when they visit and give them out to people."

Ms. Barnett says that people come from all over the area to browse through her samples and the albums. "I enjoy looking through the albums myself — there are so many great choices. And I like to see the customers looking through them and finding exactly what they want. It's exciting, and I feel I'm doing something nice for people."

Business Cards

In addition to customers coming to her studio, Ms. Barnett will take albums to clients at their homes, and she also has a website. "People can look on-line, but it's not really the same as actually seeing the cards and touching them, feeling the texture," she points out.

Fun note pads for teachers' gifts are on display, and stickers are very popular, often used as gift cards now, adds Ms. Barnett. Business cards and formal and office stationery are also available.

"I am very happy to be doing so well in just two months," she says. "I'm getting lots of great word-of-mouth through friends and school. I even have customers on Long Island. I think people especially like my focus on the new designers and appreciate the fact that I will go to their house. I also will always help customers if they want advice as to color and style."

Ms. Barnett is enjoying this new venture so much that she hopes to expand it. "My goal eventually is to open a boutique and carry baby gifts and children's clothing that you won't find anywhere else, in addition to the cards and invitations."

Right now, though, she looks forward to introducing more customers to her unique stationery selection and also inviting them to her open house, Sunday, April 15, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Studio hours are by appointment. (609) 466-4393. Website:

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